A Helpful Guide To Pawn Promotion

By Gary Flores •  Last Updated: 8 months ago •  9 min read

One of the most discussed topics in chess is the pawn promotion. Getting your pawns promoted to Queen during a game happens almost all the time.

But chess players, even the grandmasters, make mistakes in doing this promotion move, a very straightforward move of replacing your pawn to another chess piece of the same color.

If you are interested to learn more about pawn check out this guide I wrote for chess pawn rules.

I had experienced promoting pawns of up to two Queens before, which was exciting because it’s a sure win, but of course not all the time. I have seen grandmasters lose with two Queens. I will try to include some games about that as well.

In this article, I have written a complete guide to chess pawn promotion. Enjoy!

Complete guide to pawn promotion

Pawn promotion is a sort of a reward given to a chess player who can reach the opponent’s side of the board using a pawn. That pawn can now become another chess piece (except King) of the same color regardless of whether the chess piece is already captured. This commonly happens in two scenarios.

Promotion of pawns can happen mostly in these two following scenarios:

  1. Pawn promotion can happen during the middle game.
  2. Pawn promotion can happen during the end game.

Promoted pawn is always going to occur in the 8th rank, and there are several mistakes or instances that queening or pawn to Queen is being rejected by arbiters.

Here are the mistakes that chess players make when promoting a pawn:

Let’s take a look at some examples and discuss these pawn promotion mistakes.

Promoting a pawn using an inverted Rook as a Queen

Well, using an inverted rook may happen in an informal chess game, but it doesn’t apply to a chess tournament where there are arbiters and strict rules that you need to follow.

There are specific governing chess rules that should be followed, and sadly not all rules are the same in every chess tournament. There are the FIDE rules, and there are USCF rules.

According to FIDE Laws of chess, 6.12 an under the “Competition Rules” Article 6: The chess clock states that 

If the game needs to be interrupted, the arbiter shall stop the clocks. b. A player may stop the clocks only to seek the arbiter’s assistance, for example, when promotion has taken place and the piece required is not available.

FIDE Laws of chess

There is no rule regarding an inverted rook, but…

According to US Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess 7th edition, 8F7 Promoted piece not available under 8F “The Pawn” section states that.

If the desired piece is not available to replace a promoted pawn, the player may stop both clocks to locate that piece and place it on the board. A player who cannot quickly find such a piece may request the assistance of the director. It is common practice, however, to play using an upside-down rook for a second queen. In the absence of the player’s announcement to the contrary, an upside-down rook shall be considered a queen. It is improper to press the clock to start the opponent’s time with the pawn still on the last rank. If this is done, the opponent may immediately restart the player’s clock without moving. 

US Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess 7th edition

Interestingly enough, there is a book written by Eric Schiller titled “The Official Rules of Chess” where you can I believe used as a reference for casual chess games wherein you can use inverted rooks as well as a pawn laying on its side when promoting a pawn without having the pieces available physically.

You can check out his book available on Amazon here.

Note: To be safe when playing chess pawn promotion, you need to have the correct chess piece readily available to replace your pawn during a promotion move.

Promoting a pawn on the 7th rank

This isn’t actually what the chess player is attempting to do, but arbiters are very keen on watching how you promote a pawn.

If your pawn is on the 7th rank wherein, you are about to promote the pawn, and then you immediately replace the pawn to a Queen without moving the pawn in the 8th rank is an illegal move.

A very popular video in the chess space shows that exactly and this incident happened in Women’s Chess Blitz.

In this video, she is gesturing the move that she made and is being disputed by the arbiter as an illegal move.

Chess pieces names, functions, equi...
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